England v India, 3rd Investec Test, Ageas Bowl July 26, 2014

Under-fire England desperate for change


Play 06:26
Butcher: India should be comfortable with conditions

Match facts

Sunday, July 27, Ageas Bowl
Start time 1100 (1000 GMT)

Big Picture

England are 1-0 down in a five-Test series, against opponents who have just won their first overseas Test in three years. There is a lot of cricket left to be played, clearly, but the cheer in the India camp and the gloom in England's are at levels disproportionate to the bare fact of the scoreline.

Lord's was a crushing win for India but it is still too early to say the momentum has swung their way. This team is still learning to win, still hoping at the start of every Test match that their bowlers are capable of taking 20 wickets. Until that inexplicable English meltdown on the fifth afternoon, it seemed quite possible that India might do a Johannesburg or a Wellington and let another advantageous position slip from their grasp.

That three batsmen were out hooking into a leg side packed with boundary riders had more to do with England's fragility than with India's tactics. Something will need to change within the home dressing room, and very soon, if England are to come back into the series. Alastair Cook will need to lead that change, whether by example - things might look very different if he makes a hundred on Sunday and puts on 150 with another member of his top three - or by dint of his captaincy. Right now, in a series billed as a meeting of two unadventurous captains, it is only MS Dhoni who has done anything to belie his reputation.

To anyone who has watched their recent overseas tours, it should not have been too much of a surprise that India outbatted England at Lord's, except perhaps for the fact that Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli didn't feature among the biggest gamechangers. That they also outbowled England, though, was a surprise. Something must be going wrong at a fundamental level if an attack that includes James Anderson and Stuart Broad is struggling to dismiss lower-order batsmen so often.

Whether it is due to weariness - Broad, suffering from knee tendinitis, has looked down on pace - or the sameness of their attack - Moeen Ali has taken more than twice the wickets Ravindra Jadeja has, without offering the same control - or simply the tactics - how many times do you bowl short to tailenders and fail to dismiss them before shelving the plan? - they can't go on as they have been for too much longer.

England seem a side set in their ways but are in dire need of change. India, particularly their bowlers, will need to show they can do what they did at Lord's on a consistent basis.

Form guide

England: LDLDL
India: WDDLL

Players to watch

During the post-match presentation at Lord's, Alastair Cook said he was "trying my heart out to turn this around" after Lord's - "this" being no wins in England's last 10 Test matches, "this" also being a personal run of 27 innings without a century, during which time he has averaged 23.62 with the bat. Cook, you sense, has time to "turn this around" only as long as the series remains alive.

Each time he has batted in this series, Cheteshwar Pujara has looked set for a big score, before getting out against the run of play. Scores of 38, 55, 28 and 43 won't reflect how critical his contributions have been to India's success on this tour, particularly his three-hour dig on the first morning at Lord's, but India's No. 3 will want to inflict much more tangible damage on England.

Team news

With Matt Prior taking a break to regain fitness after battling multiple injuries, Jos Buttler will make his Test debut for England. It seems likely that Stuart Broad will play on despite fitness issues but Ben Stokes, who has been decent with the ball but hasn't scored a run in three innings, could make way for Chris Jordan. If Liam Plunkett is rested, Chris Woakes could come in.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Sam Robson, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Joe Root, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Liam Plunkett/Chris Woakes, 11 James Anderson.

Judging by the quantity and quality of the time he has spent batting in the nets in the lead-up, Rohit Sharma looks set to regain his place in India's middle-order as they go back to playing six specialist batsmen. Stuart Binny will make way if this is indeed the case.

India (probable) 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami.

Pitch and conditions

The Ageas Bowl has only hosted one Test match before this, against Sri Lanka three years ago. That match was drawn, but it probably wouldn't have been had the weather allowed more than 261 overs to be played over five days, with Wisden lavishing praise on the groundsman Nigel Gray for preparing "a greenish pitch combining the true bounce of Perth and the lateral movement of Nottingham".

There was little lateral movement in Nottingham when it hosted the first Test of this series, but it doesn't seem likely that the Ageas Bowl will throw up anything as out-of-character. The pitch is still reputed to be one of the fastest in the country, and there was a fair grass cover - though not nearly as much as at Lord's - on it in the lead-up. A spell of hot weather has raised concerns over its moisture retention, but in all it seems like the faster bowlers will have enough help to work with. There could be a spell of rain on Sunday, but clear skies are forecast for the other days.

Stats and trivia

  • M Vijay has faced 794 balls in the series so far, and has already moved to second on the list of India openers in terms of balls faced in a series in England. With three Tests still to go, he is within sight of Sunil Gavaskar's record of 1199 balls faced in four Tests in 1979.

  • Only five captains in England's history have led in more than 20 Tests with a worse win-loss record than Alastair Cook, who has won 9 and lost 8 of the 25 Tests he has captained in.


"The frustrating thing has been that we've been getting ourselves into situations, especially in the four Test matches, where we are ahead of the game by quite a long way and haven't been able to force that result. We must be doing a lot of things really well. But in the crucial sessions, when we need to stamp our authority to get that win, we haven't managed to take [that chance]. It's bubbling under but the longer it goes without a win it becomes harder and harder."
Alastair Cook, on England's inability to grab the match-turning moments

"I feel that in a five-match series, 1-0 lead is not big. What's crucial is to pick the right team and move forward. We are not thinking about any tagline this time, 1-0 up, level the series etc."
MS Dhoni doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself, with three Tests still to play

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on July 27, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    England seems me strong side in this match, Buttler is good young player and will perform in this match which the prior failed to perform, one change which really surprised me is plunket is not playing, i this he should play because Chris has not enough experience. Jordan is good move, on other hand Ishanat is not playing which really disturbed english batsman in the last match, Indian bataman is not performing wel in this series so Dhoni did best to strengthen the batting line up, Dhawan must drop but surprisingly is is playing, Gambhir should in this match, Inshort India you hove to worked hard to get the lead double but it seams b tough and series will equal after this match by win of england... :)

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    I don't think Rohit is better replacement of Binny. We don't have to forget that Lords test was win of bowlers more than batsman. I think Ashwin is good replacement of Biny. Secondly Gambhir must play in this match in place if Dhawan. It will stable our batting too. First wicket partnership is biggest problem for India in last couple of years and it put whole team under pressure. I think this time captain cool will listen and stop backing his favourite players only

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    And for those who complain about Ashwin's poor overseas record, please go back check initial careers of even the greats like Kumble or Warne. They were very very average. Kumble was quite quite poor overseas until late 90s before reinventing himself. So, the bottom line is that Spinners need time to learn and evolve. And to add to it, Ashwin's record stands tall as compared to the other two at similar stages (in spite of the so called overseas poor showing). I'm no way suggesting he is better than them, just saying this has the potential to be a good enough spinner to find a rightful place in the first eleven. He's not been given enough chances to judge his ability to pick wickets overseas yet.

    And now looks like Rohit might replace Binny instead of Ashwin. Perhaps Ashwin is the unfortunate one who has to pay for the insecurities of his Captain to bat at No. 6.

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    I think India should play R Ashwin ahead of Jadeja. While you have to give credit to Jadeja for he has done reasonably well in the second match, the problem is you can't find enough reasons in him to consider as a specialist lead spinner in overseas conditions. He is at best a restrictive option. For a Michael Clarke or Graeme Smith, they might have been right to use spinner as a restrictive option because they had the fire power in their pace attack and even had a genuine allrounder in Watson and Kallis. Spinners were essentially a 5th bowler for them to make up tight overs when pacers were tired. But MSD can't think like that. Let's face it. Indian pacers are simply not as good. For India, Spin will have to be an attacking option. And Ashwin is the best bet for that..

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    I feel pity about Indian captain, when 5test match series going on using only 3seamers and giving full load on them will lead to fall in injury or fatigue . Binny replacement should be varun arun not Rohit sharma. if captain doesn't believe his bowlers and give chance to bowlers then how India can produce good fast bowlers???? mark my words here Rohit sharma will never score runs this series . two test match is enough for dhawan so he should be replace by gambhir . Mr Dhoni learn captain tactics from Michael Clarke who is number no 1 test captain called by most of legends . countries England,South Africa, Australia,new Zealand, West indies mostly winning team decided by seam bowlers

  • ESPN on July 27, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    India need gambhir in place of dhawan

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    The weight of expectation on England is too high. The batting and bowling averages tell us that both teams have 2 bowlers in the top 20 and England has one batsman, joe Root 15th. Hardly the stuff of great expectation. The British press and public talk their teams and players up too much.

  • Android on July 27, 2014, 5:21 GMT

    With Pujara not contributing big and Kohli being unfortunate to face extremely good balls first up it was about time a proper batsman was included! Also effectively Rohit can bowl off spin and concede fewer than binny does each over! And if Vijay can get a wicket then Rohit looks good to take one too! He may not have the same control and variation as Ashwin but on the batting front imagine what a difference Bhuvi can make if he's batting with Rohit instead of Ishant and Shami! furthermore Dhoni has looked out of sorts against the seaming ball in helpful conditions! Rohit being an opener in ODI is a good man for the situation!

  • Android on July 26, 2014, 21:41 GMT

    Agree with Sukhi Singh. Not sure why Dhoni is wanting to bring back a batter over a fast bowler. Time to go for the kill!

  • Android on July 26, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    India somehow doesnt seem to understand the value of 5 bowlers in an away test especially when they have someone who can bat and score runs. If they replace binny with soomeon then it had to be Ashwin. he will provide the same balance in the batting order and will strengthen the bowling too as thats the only thing india had missed in the last two matches when they underbowled binny. They have struggled to finish the game when they were on top in SA and NZ and in the past because of the lack of 5th bowler - when a tired fast bowler/ part time spinner bowls the batsmen tend to get set and changes the course of the match. if the pitch suits binnys bowling i would give him the new ball: 1. he gets confidence in his bowling 2. he can use any swing that he gets with the new ball. given its a long series we can rest shami or ishant and bring in Aaron.

    if at all binny needs to be replaced, it has to be Ashwin.

  • No featured comments at the moment.